Notes from the Test Kitchen: Finding yuzu


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Every year we test more than 600 recipes in the Test Kitchen. Many are relatively straightforward; though we may not have made a particular dish, we are generally familiar with its ingredients and method and can usually anticipate the results.

Other recipes present more of a challenge: The writer/developer or chef may have written a vague description of the method, or maybe there’s a step that’s been left out. One of our most frequent challenges involves the ingredients themselves....


We typically start testing recipes two weeks in advance of their publication and may spend the first few days simply figuring out where to buy the more unfamiliar ingredients. An obscure Portuguese sausage may need to be identified and retailers located for one recipe. For another, we may need to find a substitute for a specific spice used in a Kashmiri wedding dish, working with the writer and local Indian markets to ensure its availability.

Amy Scattergood has written this week’s Food section cover story on rillettes, a rustic, country-style relative of pate, and includes three recipes. At first glance, the ingredients are not hard to source. For the pork and lamb rillette recipes, look no further than your nearest quality butcher for the meats (or your nearest Asian market for the pork recipe, where the components are readily available).

The sourcing was just a bit more complicated for the trout recipe, which included a couple ingredients you may not normally associate with rillettes. Though fresh trout fillets may be easy to locate, what about the lebni, or the yuzu juice (and what if the reader is unfamiliar with one or both)? The lebni -- a fresh, Middle Eastern cheese -- is available at Middle Eastern markets and Jon’s supermarkets. Bottled yuzu juice -- from a type of citrus found in China and Japan -- is found in Asian markets.

In order to locate these and other ingredients, we keep a detailed source list that we update every few months. It includes categories such as produce, meats, seafood, cheese and spices, and it lists a range of regional ethnic stores and markets. We also locate and give sources for specialty cooking equipment and bakeware when we feel a recipe requires it.

If we encounter an ingredient that is just too difficult for the average reader to procure, we will often test and call for a substitute. If all else fails, we find another recipe.

-- Noelle Carter